by Thomas Phippen
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, said his disapproval of the president’s actions and comments would not stop him from supporting Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Corker said he received calls from Democratic colleagues after Trump’s controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki Monday, urging the departing Tennessee senator to block Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“He said, ‘Corker, you need to block the Supreme Court nominee,’” Corker recalled. “Well, I could hit myself in the knee with a sledge hammer too. But why would I block someone that I generally like over what the president has done?”
Because Corker is departing the chamber when his term ends in 2019, and because of his frequent criticisms of Trump, he is among a group of GOP politicians activists hope will cross the aisle to block a conservative justice from ascending to the Supreme Court.
Along with Corker, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, all frequent Trump critics, are held up as possible senators who Democratic activists hope might deny Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a Senate floor vote. In the tight 51-vote GOP majority, only a few Republicans would need to vote nay or sit out the vote to block Kavanaugh’s appointment, assuming all Democrats vote as a block.
Corker hasn’t said affirmatively he would support Kavanaugh, but after Trump nominated the appellate judge to the Supreme Court, Corker said Kavanaugh had served “honorably” and “understands the importance of upholding the Constitution.” Kavanaugh met with Corker Wednesday.
Corker’s comments Thursday came during a confirmation hearing for Kathleen Kraninger to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown insisted in his opening remarks that Democrats should do all they can to block Trump appointments as punishment for the president’s policies.
Corker repudiated his colleague, saying “I’ll take a back seat to no one” in calling out the president for foreign policy, tariff decisions and other matters, but he wouldn’t block nominees out of spite.
“What I’d like to see happen is if we could somehow depoliticize this bureau,” Corker said of the CFPB.
– – –
Thomas Phippen is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Thomas Phippen on Twitter.